Among Rolex’s 2022 releases, the uncontested headline grabber was the southpaw, crown-at-nine GMT Master II with the black and green bezel – the Sprite or Riddler, if you’re into nicknames. It’s the sort of stunt Rolex geeks love and a chance for the Crown’s social media family to post pictures of other lefthanded Rolex replica watches for sale of the past. As a seasonal trophy watch it’s a slam dunk, but it is not a watch for me. I’ve been thinking about the relaunch of the most historic and the most perplexing of Rolexes – the Air-King.
Unlike the usual does-what-it-says-on-the-dial Rolex nomenclature (Submariner for divers, Day-Date for a watch that shows the day and date), the Air-King’s functionality is not associated with aviation. Hypotheses that it was named for RAF pilots for the Battle of Britain in 1940 are poorly substantiated, probably deriving from the name being registered in Switzerland during 1943. Today, the AAA Canada fake Rolex Air-King watches stands as a lone model after its family of Air-prefixed models comprising Tigers, Lions and Giants were discontinued. Production also ended on a Speedking, a smaller watch, in the late 1950s when the model relaunched under the slogan “Introducing Air-King, the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual”.
The Air-King was reborn in 2016 as 40 mm high quality replica watches with the dial we now associate with the model: hours marked at 3, 6 and 9, and the rest of the dial calibrated in five-minute increments with an inverted triangle at 12: the effect was that of speed or rev counter. The crown motif was printed in gold, Rolex in green – the striking design was a cause for comment amongst Rolex watchers, creating an identity that in no way could be confused with the regular Oyster range.
For me, the transition wasn’t ample enough to give it ‘Professional’ status. The sides of the case were still curved and there were no crown guards.
Fast-forward to 2022 and the cheap replica Rolex Air-King watches has had a complete makeover, but unless you look closely, the only obvious alteration is the addition of crown guards. There is much more to it than that, and the aggregation of barely perceptible changes has the cumulative strength to U-turn my opinion. Typical of Rolex, identifying these alterations is like a PhD-level spot the difference, which for perfect copy watches enthusiasts is all part of the appeal.
The storied history of the Air-King is testament to Swiss movements Rolex replica watches’ independence and judgement to change as it sees fit, and the incremental changes to the 2022 version play into that narrative. For instance, the addition of an ‘0’ before the ‘5’ on the minutes scale is huge. The now-straight sides and the Oysterlock safety clasp with Easylink extension align it with core Professional timepieces like the Submariner and the GMT Master. The dial is 0.8 mm wider. Another change is only visible in the dark: new lume claims to remain luminous for double the time and is apparently whiter than white in daylight. It houses a new movement, Cal 3230, which reduces the height of the 1:1 super clone watches from 13.1 mm to 11.59 mm. Changes to the bracelet are almost as seismic – it’s nearly an entire millimetre broader.
Top Swiss Rolex fake watches’ priority has always been the long-term health of the brand rather than myopic concern with the next quarter. It would have been easier to make another pastel-coloured Oyster Perpetual than reengineer a peripheral model. But this typifies the long-sightedness of large independent brands that have the power of their own conviction to decide what they do next.